Women's Leadership and Political Participation - Economic Empowerment -  
Ending Violence Against Women - Peace and Security - Governance and National Planning - Post-2015 Development Agenda and SDGs
(Sustainable Development Goals) - HIV and AIDS
President's Message

Since spending time together in Oslo last summer, my working relationship with Mitushi Das, Senior Partnerships Specialist, Strategic Partnerships Division (SPD), has taken off! In October, Susan and I traveled to New York, spending a day at UN Women headquarters.  Mitushi set up meetings with key UN Women heads of departments - including Nancy Aburi, Head of Private Sector Partnerships, and Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Sr. Advisor to the Under Secretary-General and Head of HeForShe. We ended the day with Ton de Jong, Director of Resource Mobilization in the Strategic Partnership Division, looking at charts on the amazing progress that has taken place and the projects scheduled for the coming year.

At the end of October, I attended a program hosted by the DC chapter. In mid-November the East Florida chapter hosted a one woman play by Neale Godfrey which kept all of us laughing to the end! It has been an exciting six months for me as the incoming president, observing and growing into my new role. I am committed to visiting with more chapters and board members in the next few months.

My sincere thanks to everyone who made our success in 2015 possible! Because of your generosity and commitment, our annual appeal over the holidays gave us the best return, with the lowest expenses ever!

We begin 2016 with an exceptional momentum. I look at this as the beginning of women's empowerment and  the end of  gender inequality. Most of us may not be able to travel to countries where women and girls live unbelievably hard lives. Countries where they are exploited at home through early and forced marriages and sold as sex slaves. Their work from youth is undervalued and under paid; laborers with no social protection policies. However, our combined financial support of UN Women's initiatives allows them to expand programs that teach economic and leadership skills; empowering  lives, giving women their  dignity and training them to reach their full human potential and encouraging governments to pass laws that protect women and girls.

Due to the work of UN Women (and our financial support of that work), women's issues have come from the side stream to the mainstream.

Let it be known to all that the US National Committee for UN Women has stepped up our game. The Board and chapters are determined to work harder, with greater focus and commit ourselves to doing more than we have ever done. We are responding to the call from the Executive Director of UN Women, to commit to action and kick-start rapid change. YES! We will STEP IT UP for Gender Equality and Planet 50-50 by 2030.

Happy New Year and here's to our joint successes in 2016!

Lalita Janke

It's been five years since the United Nations General Assembly established UN Women with the goal of working to ensure gender equality becomes a reality!

We couldn't be more excited about what UN Women has accomplished in only five years and are proud to help support the critical work they do every day to change the lives of women and girls across the globe! 

Last year included some amazing accomplishments for women and girls around the world and UN Women played a critical role in many of the milestones achieved.

Below are just a few of the many successes we saw in 2015:
  • The 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action
  • UN Member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda with women and girls at its center
  • Latin America got tough on femicide - passing important new laws
  • Nigeria banned female genital mutilation
  • UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2242
  • Countries stepped it up and committed resources and funding for gender equality
  • Landmarks across the globe were lit in orange to bring much-needed attention (and change) to the issue of violence against women

To review UN Women's 2015 Year in Review, click here .
UN WOMEN: Funding Expands to 80 Countries 
Photo Credit: UN Women

In December, UN Women's Fund for Gender Equality (FGE) announced $7.26 million in grants to 24 innovative programs across the globe to boost women's economic empowerment and political leadership and participation. More than 1400 applications were received.

The high-impact programs designed by women-led civil society organizations have been selected to jump-start the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 28 countries and will begin this month.

UN Women's Fund for Gender Equality will provide technical and financial assistance to maximize impact and sustainability of these interventions.

The Fund's global portfolio has expanded to a total of 80 countries in just six years.

To learn more about these empowering grants and the difference they are making in countries around the world,
click here.

iKNOW Politics

iKNOW Politics, an interactive online network of women in politics who share experiences, resources, advice and collaborate on issues of interest, has launched an e-discussion on United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women peace and security in the Arab region.

The five-week discussion (running through January 17th) will focus on how women in politics and other policymakers can be active in the implementation of resolution 1325 in the Arab region, and related challenges and new opportunities.
To read more, click here. 
Due to the generosity of our chapters, board members, individual members and supporters, we ended 2015 surpassing our fundraising goal!

A special shout-out to the San Francisco chapter who collected funds from family and friends through Firstgiving. Their entire board donated which allowed them to raise almost $2,000 for the appeal.

In addition, every single member of the USNC Executive Committee showed their support with a year-end donation.

We couldn't do this without YOU! Our sincere thanks to all who donated last year.  
Last month, UN Women was presented a Presidential Award in Sierra Leone State House in recognition of its contribution to fighting Ebola.

During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, UN Women facilitated mobilization and information efforts targeting women, who were disproportionately affected by this disease, coordinated UN efforts to address gender within the response, and supported the collection of sex-disaggregated data.
Photo Credit: UN Women
In Sierra Leone and Liberia, UN Women worked with local radio stations and with traditional leaders to raise awareness and aid prevention; produced educational materials to train health workers; supported orphaned children and stigmatized survivors; ensured that women's needs were reflected in all aspects of the UN's humanitarian response; provided economic grants for hard-hit cross-border traders; and more.

The silver medal award was accepted on behalf of UN Women by Mary Okumu, a UN Women representative for Sierra Leone and Baindu Massaquoi, UN Women Programme Specialist who was seconded to the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) during the emergency.
To read more about this important recognition, click here.

ROWAN BLANCHARD: Shares Feminist Award

Actresses Amandla Stenberg and Rowan Blanchard have both been named the Feminist Celebrity of the Year by the Ms. Foundation for Women. The teenage stars topped the list of feminist celebrities based on votes from an online survey conducted by the Ms. Foundation in partnership with Cosmopolitan.com.

Last summer during our annual conference in Long Beach, we were fortunate to hear from Rowan who spoke eloquently about gender equality.

The Girl Meets Boy star has become a powerful voice for feminism at a remarkably young age. In August, the 14-year-old wrote a thoughtful essay on intersectional feminism and how feminism treats women of color that quickly went viral.
LOCAL CHAPTERS : What's Coming Up?

Our local chapters are as busy as ever planning new and exciting events! Mark your calendar now to join the event closest to you.

The San Francisco Bay Area chapter is hosting a " Fireside Chat with Cheryl Jennings" - the Emmy award winning broadcast journalist. The event will take place from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on February 2nd at the Infinity Tower Club Lounge. This is an exclusive members-only event, so look for an email from the chapter soon. To sign up, click here. If you're not yet a member, you can join now.

The Utah chapter is celebrating a new year of service with a " Help Refugee Settlement" event scheduled for January 23rd from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the YWCA. For more information, click here.

The Chicago chapter has two events planned this month. First up is an exciting Panel Discussion and Reception on January 21st from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Michael Laconte Gallery: " ISIS, Refugees & Women: Abroad & at Home."  The chapter is also hosting its Book Club at 2:00 PM on January 31st at the Sip Coffee House. This month's book is Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist. For more information, contact vpmembership@chicago.unwomen-usnc.org.

The Southern California chapter is planning a Valentine's Day Celebration: " Women's Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women's Rights" from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM on February 14th at the Laguna Woods Clubhouse. On International Women's Day (March 8th), the chapter will host an event " Honoring Women around the World" from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Laguna Woods Clubhouse. Keep an eye out for more details about the programs and speakers on the chapter's website page.

The Gulf Coast chapter is celebrating International Women's Day with an event scheduled for March 12th at the Polo Grill, Lakewood Ranch. In addition to fabulous food, guests will enjoy the acclaimed play, Seven, a documentary that tells the true story of seven women who fought bravely for the well-being of women, children and families across the globe. On April 2nd and 3rd, the chapter will hold its annual Through Women's Eyes Internation Film Festival at the Hollywood 20. Last year, TWE's films won two of four coveted audience awards given out by the Sarasota Film Festival. Event and ticket information will be available soon on the chapter's website page.

CSW 60: March 14-24, 2016

Mark your calendar now and plan to join women from across the globe as we come together for CSW 60 in New York City on March 14-24th.

This year's theme is Women's Empowerment and its Connection to Sustainable Development.

Both the Metro New York chapter and USNC will hold parallel events during CSW. The Metro NY chapter parallel event and reception is scheduled for March 22nd; the USNC parallel event and reception is scheduled for March 17th. Details for both events will be coming soon.

To learn more about this year's CSW event, click here. 

NEW CHAPTER: Philadelphia     

USNC is excited to welcome a new local chapter

Vania Mathas has been following the work of UN Women for years but after hearing Emma Watson's speech last year, she decided to Step It Up for gender equality. She and a group of four other women have formed the new USNC chapter.

The first event is scheduled to take place on March 8th in Philadelphia to celebrate International Women's Day and officially launch the new chapter.

Look for more information about this new chapter in our next newsletter. 
UTAH CHAPTER: Screens Price of Honor

On October 24th, the Utah chapter screened The Price of Honor for over 50 attendees.

USNC Utah chapter co-presidents Victoria Baird and Courtney McBeth welcomed USNC San Francisco Bay Area chapter president and the film's consulting producer, Amy Logan. Amy hosted a spirited question and answer session after the screening.

The Price of Honor tells the true story of two teenage sisters in Texas who were killed in 2008 in a premeditated "Honor Killing" in 2008 by their father, Yasar Said. Since their murders, Said has vanished without a trace and is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. The film is a sad reminder that violence against women is not just a problem in other countries; it's a problem in our own backyards.
In our last newsletter, we wrote about the Chicago chapter creating three events in three months. Since that time, they've continued to build their book club and host another important event.

On November 12th, the chapter hosted a well-attended evening of dinner, drinks and a silent auction at the Aberdeen Tap to benefit women and girls impacted by Nepal's earthquake in April. The evening's highlight was the presentation by Attorney Marvin Brustin, the Honorary Consul General of Nepal. Mr. Brustin described his recent trip to Nepal with details of the devastation on the ground.

The chapter shared updates from UN Women's Nepal office on their earthquake response efforts, and presented a short UN Women video on the quake's impact on women and girls. Rebuilding presents an opportunity to empower the women of Nepal.

Photo: Chicago chapter members speaking with Marvin Brustin

The chapter wrapped up the year with a holiday brunch on December 5th. Members enjoyed socializing, sharing memories from the past year and making plans for the year ahead. If you're in the Chicago area, be sure to connect with this busy chapter!

Photo: Chicago Chapter's Holiday Brunch

We also now offer virtual memberships! To learn more,